Is it selfish to pursue happiness?

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154493023211744&id=41949341743

This is something many of us happiness seekers ponder. 

In my case especially because fundamentally I have everything in my life I could ever imagine needing. Also because so much in the world seems to be wrong. There is hunger, torture, war, racism… Things my husband and children will hopefully never have to face, but that are reality to a lot of people – even friends and family members.

I remembered a discussion I had with a colleague some time back. Today, I realized the meaning of what he said, to my happiness project. 

I argued that I’m doing this to be happier in my everyday life, because not all of us have the possibility to quit our job and move to Gili Air. 

He argued that that’s basically bullshit – that you always have a choice and he for example chooses to be a whore for money. (He’s quite a straightforward type of a guy and voices his opinions loud! And I quite like him for that by the way.) 

So his point was received – very loud and clear – but I wasn’t entirely convinced. 

Who knows why, but I had a sudden epiphany about why everyday happiness is the way to go for me. 

We are not all the adventurous type. 

And that’s ok. 

E.g. I’ve tried living in rental apartments. But I care deeply about being able to make the place look like OUR home and that is not entirely realistic in a rental in Helsinki – in my experience. 

I’m intrested in interior design and even paint one shade of white over with another, if you get my point. Having our own apartment and there a kitchen, we designed for our purposes, makes me satisfied on a daily basis. I realize this may sound strange to some, but I like our well functioning kitchen and the fact we can afford to pay our monthly installments to keep that kitchen. 

Then again, I have friends who I’m sure will never spend all their lives living in one place. Others that would never work from 9 to 5 (like I basically do) and so on. 

And that’s ok too.

It’s amazing if someone has found their passion in traveling on a motorcycle around the world, working odd jobs here and there and they are able to fulfil their dream. But I like that little bit of predictability in my life that a steady paycheck and a safety net of friends and family around give you. Truthfully, I would go as far as to say that I would feel anxious and stressed without a steady income and a place to call home.

Helsinki. My home.

And so I realized, that even if I still don’t think a “whore for money” is the accurate way to describe my goal in life (or that everyone really has a choice), I actually am not intrested in quitting my dayjob right now. That may change one day, and I’m fine with that aswell.

I find enjoyment in a lot of things I have right here, where I am. Recognizing that, and giving myself permission to actually BE happy where I am (no matter what the social media, newspapers or advertisements say) is perhaps the biggest victory of my happiness project so far.

I don’t necessarily need a study to tell me, that a happy person is more likely to give back to their community. Or that the happier a person is, the less reason they have to hate or envy people around them. So actually I shouldn’t be the only one benefiting from my happiness.

Trying to be happier “in the now” doesn’t stump your possibilities for personal growth, or dreaming big. I dream! There are so many travels I need to do, tattoos I plan to take, studies I want to continue… 

It’s just that I know from experience that if I feel shitty where I am right now, no outward circumstance is actually going to fix that (e.g. quitting that day job…). The everyday life will catch you eventually.

So figure out what it is that makes your everyday life happier. In some cases it’s moving to Bali. In some cases it’s moving out of a rental. Perhaps expanding your social circle. Sleeping more. Finding a long lost hobby you used to love…

Or maybe you are already exactly where you are supposed to be. I’ve heard it’s a possibility.

Happiness boost: treat yourself to a treatment

This is where money does buy me happiness. 

Chronic pain can lead to depression and depression itself can cause also physical pain. Though I’m quite sure pain has not been a factor in my depression, I have suffered from chronic back pain for around 20 years now (since my teens that is). 
So as often as I can, I spend money on massages, acupuncture, physiotherapy etc. It is a very satisfying feeling laying on a table with the acupuncture needles stuck in your back and feeling absolutely nothing. Bliss.

Even if you’re not in pain, something like a hot stone massage is oh, so very relaxing. An acupuncture session is also a perfect excuse for an hour of me-time (all you busy parents out there!) – I usually fall asleep there. 

You just might want to make sure you have an opportunity to rest after your treatment – a massage tends to make at least me so relaxed, all I want to do for the rest of the day is sleep!

Friends – a natural high

“In fact, a weak social circle is bad for your health, adds Barker. According to research from Brigham Young University, not having enough friends is the same risk factor as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

https://www.fastcompany.com/40424657/the-best-way-to-make-new-friends-according-to-science

As a kid I was the most open, approachable person you’ll ever meet. I had no trouble making friends, I cornered even the shy ones. 

Some experiences have led me to be more wary about people, so making new friends doesn’t come as naturally as it used to. It’s propably a mix of poor self-esteem and getting attached to people quite strongly – which always opens up a possibility to getting hurt.

Luckily despite all my issues, I have been blessed when it comes to friendships.

Laws of attraction

I don’t know that in my current life situation (work, two kids, marriage) I intentionally try to seek out people to bond with. But some just stumble on my path, whether I try to look for them or not – and I’m certainly not complaining.

Some of my friends I’ve known for so long (one friend 33 years out of 36!), I have no idea how we initially met, or how long it took for us to get a thing going.

What I do know, is that a certain chemistry, attraction is present in all my friendships. It doesn’t necessarily mean we were best buddies the second we met. Just that there was something that made us (or at least me!) want to swap more than a mere hello. 

Sometimes the attraction is so present, it’s almost tangible. In those situations I’m very adamant that a person belongs in my life.

Almost twenty years ago a black haired girl walked into our classroom. I can’t remember how she was introduced or anything – but I do remember thinking “She intrigues me.” When we finally hooked up through a mutual friend, we were an instant hit. And we really are like the sun and the moon, but I could never imagine my life without her.

Some friends feel more like family, even when they live further away. (I love the fact that whatsapp exists.) 

Some friends you don’t see in years, and still, when you bump into them, you chat like you had just seen them yesterday.

There are those friends that have stood by you every step of the way, helping, giving much needed love when you had none to give.  And they still keep on giving. Advice, laughter, experiences…

There’s even a friend who held my hand in childbirth and saw a baby come out of me – and it all felt perfectly natural. She’d make a perfect midwife by the way, even though she might not think so.

All friends so different, all contributing to my happiness in one way or another.

How to find friends 

I’ve managed somehow apparently! But I never had any kind of calculated tactic. Mostly I just try to keep an open mind. 

I’ve met friends through work, studies, hobbies… All quite natural places to meet people. I’m not picky about age or gender either – you never know who you hit it off with. 

I’ve met some really intriguing characters through friends of friends – so if I’m asked to join a party or a dinner for example, I try to go. Even if it scares the shit out of me (honestly, I’m no social butterfly…)

What if people feel like the scariest thing ever

If you feel like you need a bigger social circle, but you suffer from e.g. anxiety or depression or you’re just shy, meeting new people is propably going to feel daunting. I must confess I was lurking at home for quite some time.

But then I realized I could use our kid as a clever cover-up. I shamelessly used him as an excuse to meet people. Even then I didn’t join a moms group, but rather found out if any of our neighbours were home with a baby too. I just function better when there’s not too many people to talk to at the same time.

And as luck would have it, I found someone. 

The importance of having friends

It’s that age old wisdom about sharing. Share your sorrows and they will seem lesser. Share your joy and it’ll multiply. 

When my friends succeed, have happy events in their lives, are trying new things… I’m there to share the excitement. With a pure heart. I can be many things, but I’m not jealous. I feel their butterflies, their smiles and I’ll feel an instant lift myself. 

Admittedly, while not so strong myself, I propably haven’t been the best consoler to all those around me. I am there to listen though. Most of the time that’s really all any of us need.

Doing different things with different friends – all a bit depending on our life situations, history (or taste in music!) – just gives me so much. 

Friends, who know you like the back of their hand, friends who share your passion for books and writing, friends who understand your work life, friends who have that similar stage in life, friends who made it through school with you and those who will party with you all night long and have the courage to laugh at your ridiculous hangover. Then there are those new beginnings where you are cautiously figuring the rules of that particular friendship out. 

What it takes to be a friend

You have to work on your relationship. You can be insanely blessed, like I was, and get your friends back after a long silent period (because of a relationship by the way, not mental health issues) – but it doesn’t always work like that.

Like I said, I get attached to people, which also means that I’m fiercely on my friends’ side. 

My only fear is that I don’t always know how to show my appreciation well enough, remember to stay in touch often enough, or I leave something unsaid in fear of conflict, which may lead to weird situations.

Let opportunity knock

Seeing as how I’ve managed to quit smoking six years ago, I would think it a bad policy to let my social circle shrivel. 

So that in mind, being more open to people, and opportunities to meet people, is something I’m trying to embrace as part of my happiness project. I actually quite enjoy my me-time, but I would go nuts without my friends!

Famous Finnish comic strip. It’s a valentine’s day greeting from a friend. ❀

Living up to my guidelines

Today I was more nervous than I have been in a long while. I tried exercise, singing and even dancing, but the feeling wanted to stay with me. 

See, today I did something that I’m not sure I’ve ever done before. So I was definitely pushing my boundaries, and you know how our mind doesn’t like those boundaries pushed. 

I mentioned it briefly in a previous post, how I had followed my intuition in wanting to get to know a person better. I also mentioned, that plan didn’t go quite as I had hoped. Turns out though, it didn’t backfire either. 

I think today was an excellent proof that my happiness project and guidelines work for me. They are taylor made for me and my issues and I think I must have followed more than one of my guidelines today, or leading up to today’s event.

Anyone figuring out their own guidelines, can be as successful with theirs, as I have been with mine.

What I had planned turned eventually (suggested by this other person) into a sunny afternoon spent with excellent food, great people and family fun. 

Oh believe me, my ego is trying sooooo hard to make today’s experience less enjoyable for me – but that’s just cause my ego has serious trust issues. (Right now it’s telling me, that I will freak the people out we met today, if they happen to catch this post.) But I won’t let that stop me…

Because honestly, today, even the weather was on my side.

Life is too short to wake up

in the morning with regrets.

So, love the people who

treat you right and

forget about the ones who don’t.

And believe that everything 

happens for a reason…

If you get a chance – take it;

if it changes your life – let it.

Nobody said that it would be easy.

BUT

it would be worth it.

Paulo Coelho